Stigma and motherhood

Bottled

Whilst feeding the twins, I often opt to watch some mindless TV to pass the time. This most often comes courtesy of daytime BBC1 or E4, the latter being a favourite for CharmedThe Big Bang Theory and Rules of Engagement (Dapper and Jeff share a rather alarming number of common ideologies). I’ve never really got into How I Met Your Mother, but it does occasionally tickle my funny bone, and one night last week I left it on.

There was a scene playing in which Ted was warning the rest of the gang about his date, who was about to show up and spin a tale about how they met, being as she was ashamed of having met online. This provoked a conversation about online dating, and whether there was a stigma still attached.

I think I can be a little naive when it comes to the stigma relating to my personal choices. I’m unashamed of having met Dapper online – why should it matter how I met someone who makes me so very happy? I’ve blogged at length about the importance of choice to my personal understanding of feminism, but I wasn’t aware that so many of my choices regarding motherhood would cause such a stir, even amongst my family and friends.

Take breastfeeding, for example. I read widely about the benefits of breastfeeding, and decided it was right for me. I wasn’t unrealistic about it – when people asked whilst pregnant about my plans (and they did – even the random elderly lady on the train!), I would answer that I hoped to breastfeed if possible. I know that some people are unable to do so, for medical reasons, and others choose not to. My choice to breastfeed is not a comment on anyone else’s choice either way. For me, it is practical – no sterilising bottles, no leaving one baby to scream whilst another feeds* – and economical, the cost of buying double the formula, unthinkable. I also believe wholeheartedly in the health benefits of breastfeeding. The data is, to my mind, unequivocal. But that doesn’t mean I believe those offering formula are failing their babies in any way. On the consultant’s advice, we top the boys up at bedtime with formula, to help their weight gain and allow my body the chance to recover from feeding two hungry babies all day, and on the health visitor’s advice, to give me the chance of more than 20 minutes’ continuous sleep. For me, this combination feeding is the optimum option for my lifestyle, beliefs, and babies’ needs.

Then there’s the choice I make to sling my babies around the house at present, with an eye to slinging when out and about in future. Again, this is about practicality as far as I’m concerned. There is seldom a moment in my life at present in which there is not a baby screaming. If one is sleeping peacefully, the other is usually in need of attention. Slinging allows me to get on with the bare necessities of life – eating, drinking, washing up, even nappy changes, without the guilt of leaving an unhappy baby screaming in their cot alone. As for slinging outside the home – if you’ve never tried to get a double buggy along a narrow pavement, through a shop door or along busy supermarket aisles, you’ve frankly no right to comment! ;) Suffice to say, it’s no easy feat!

And finally, there’s my aim towards using entirely reusable nappies and wipes**. I currently use a combination of reusables and disposables, as I do not have enough teenyfits to go around my two teeny boys, and for practical reasons – Daddy is still getting used to disposable nappy changes, never mind the added confusion of cloth nappies. But having weighed up my options, I know that reusables are going to save me money (yes, even factoring in the costs of washing) and help reduce our waste, something we have always cared about (reuse, recycle – buy secondhand!). They also mean that, as a non-driver who cannot just pop to the local shop in an emergency, I’m never going to run out – something I always have to factor into the equasion (and one I should have mentioned for breastfeeding too). And possibly most importantly of all… hello, they’re vintage! A cloth nappied bottom is seriously cute – and some of the nappy covers you can buy, incredibly funky! I already match the boys’ nappy covers/all-in-ones to their outfits, they’ll be matching mine before they know it!

*My Mum splashed out £85 on a twin-feeding pillow, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I could not have mastered twin-feeding without, and as I’m literally buckled in, it means on the occasions I have fallen asleep whilst feeding, accidentally smothering my boys has not been a fear – as it stops me slumping too far in any direction. It also means I can feed hands-free – allowing me time to read, surf the web and most importantly, EAT!

**Regarding reusable wipes, I bought some seriously expensive bamboo ones online, and a couple of packs of 5 for £1.99 microfibre cloths from Asda and Matalan. I personally find the dishcloths far, far softer and more absorbant. Worth bearing in mind…

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3 thoughts on “Stigma and motherhood

  1. Combo feeding FTW! I think slings are so fantastic too – and I can see why they are especially useful when you have two little ones. I could never get the hang of it myself with the sling we had but I have friends that swear by them. One of my friends has a baby and a two year old and the two year old wears her dolly in a sling, copying her mummy!

  2. Love hearing about the boys…way to go mama!! Congrats to you and Dapper and keep the posts coming…love to keep up with you all!!

  3. I haven’t been here in a while but the reading is good! Thank you for sharing. And a very belated congrats to you and Dapper!

    I too met my partner on line and while I’m not ashamed that I did, I don’t appreciate the attitude of people who think that it is shameful so I just avoid it or say we were introduced by a friend. Only people I love and trust know how we really met.

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